Poughkeepsie, NY – On a windy fall day hard by the Hudson River, the homestanding Marist Red Foxes showed that they were better suited for dealing with the wind than visiting Stetson.
The result was a convincing 27-0 victory for Marist, sending the Hatters to their sixth consecutive loss. Marist improved to 5-3 overall and 4-1 in Pioneer Football League play with the win while dropping Stetson to 1-5, 0-4.
The key to success for Marist was the fact that the Red Foxes were able to move the ball on the ground when facing the wind while using short passes to keep the Stetson defense honest. With the wind at their backs, Marist was able to throw the ball down field successfully.
The result was a banner day for Marist senior quarterback Chuckie Looney. The Ocala, Fla., native, who owns Marist career records for passing yards, touchdowns, completions and attempts, posted his second career 100-yard rushing game while also throwing for 254 yards and three scores.
“We did OK stopping their run in the first half, but when we needed a big play on offense, we just shot ourselves in the foot,” Hatters coach Roger Hughes said. “The big positive today was that we didn’t turn the ball over, and if we can do that, it will give us a chance to win. We just have to find a way to execute and we have to run the ball better.”
The scoring started early when Stetson punter James LaGamma was unable to penetrate the blustery wall thrown in his face, leading to a 15-yard punt that left the Red Foxes with the ball at the Hatters’ 21.
Marist needed just three plays to cover that distance, with most of the damage coming on a 17-yard pass from Chuckie Looney to Albert Wright. The PAT kick by Mike Maccarone put the Red Foxes on top 7-0 just six minutes into the game.
The Hatters were able to push their way through the wind late in the quarter, driving to the Marist 25 before turning the ball over on downs. It was one of three trips deep into Marist territory in the first half that failed to produce points.
After turning the field for the second quarter, the Hatters took advantage of the wind to quickly get back into scoring position, but LaGamma’s 40-yard field goal attempt slipped wide left.
Stetson’s defense gave the Hatters another quick scoring chance when Ryan Powers picked off a Looney pass and returned the interception 23 yards to the Marist 20. The Hatters picked up a first down at the 10, but consecutive bad snaps led to another LaGamma field goal attempt, this time from 36 yards. That attempt was again wide left.
On the next possession, Marist caught the Hatters in a jail-break blitz, and Looney turned the play into a 59-yard quarterback option run for a touchdown. The PAT attempt failed, leaving the Red Foxes with a 13-0 lead.
“His experience certainly showed there,” Hughes said. “It was a blitz situation and we had someone who is assigned to cover the quarterback, but he didn’t get to where he needed to be. The result was that we didn’t have all 11 on defense playing together.”
Stetson was able to keep the score right there when Chris Atkins intercepted a Looney pass attempt into the end zone on the final play of the half.
Looney keyed the Red Foxes successes in the third quarter with his feet and accurate throws into the wind. He led Marist on a pair of scoring drives, one covering 75 yards and the other 55, to give the home squad a commanding 27-0 lead.
Looney was lifted for backup Duell Smith for the final quarter, but left the game with 127 rushing yards on just six carries, including his 59-yard TD run. He also completed 18-of-30 passes for 254 yards and three scores.
Offensively, the Hatters were never able to get anything going. Stetson rushed for just 18 yards on 39 attempts and completed just 12-of-24 pass attempts for 113 yards. A big part of the problem in both areas for Stetson was that the Marist defensive line was able to make a living in the Hatters’ backfield. Marist recorded five sacks in the game and piled up a total of 14 tackles for loss.
“We knew there defensive line was pretty good,” Hughes said. “We tried to mix it up to keep them off balance but, right now, that is where the mismatches are for us, on the offensive and defensive lines. Our kids hung in there early on, but as the game won on the mismatch became more evident.”
The Hatters will try to get back on track next week when they return to Spec Martin Stadium to start and two-game homestand against Campbell. The Camels enter play on Saturday afternoon at Mercer with a 1-6 overall record, including an 0-4 mark in league play.